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Local TV in Southampton: That’s Solent to sail in with Esther Ranzten and Alan Titchmarsh

What’s new for local TV in Southampton?

That’s Solent to sail in with Esther Ranzten and Alan Titchmarsh

Southampton by PhillipC/FlickrThat’s Solent will hoist its flag across Southampton and surrounding areas in early 2014 after winning the local TV licence for the city.

TV presenter and Childline founder Esther Rantzen will be That’s Solent’s programming vice president and host of a flagship Sunday-night magazine show.

Alan Titchmarsh will film a sailing trip around the Isle of Wight, with shows also hosted by BBC Radio Solent presenter and former TVS newsreader Chrissie Pollard.

Community and local charity work will feature strongly amidst ultra-local news bulletins for Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Winchester.

Esther Rantzen said: “It is scandalous how little coverage is given by current broadcasters to the work of the voluntary sector and the challenges they face.

“They are often in possession of riveting, sometimes shocking, sometimes inspirational stories
and are supported by volunteers who are often very remarkable characters.

“We intend to cover as much of this work as we can so that local viewers and fully informed about ways in which they too can volunteer and support this work”.

October 26, 2012 (image PhillipC/Flickr)

Who are That’s Solent?

Former Meridian TV bosses Mary McAnally and Jim Raven have come together with Esther Rantzen and Dan Cass, former chief executive of local TV specialists SIX TV, to launch That’s Solent.

The That’s Solent prospectus for Ofcom adds: “From the outset, the intention was to ensure all
parts of the Solent were fully included and this approach has secured enthusiastic support from
educational establishments, newspaper partners and businesses throughout the broadcast area.

“We have the support of a team of investors, many with strong links to Hampshire and the
Thames Valley, with a strong commitment to developing a long-term viable local media group.”

What will be on That’s Solent?

News is key to all local TV channels, and That’s Solent promises dedicated local news for three areas: Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Wider news coverage will include two weekly current affairs programmes such as The Solent Audit and Have Your Say, and strong consumer affairs reportage such as the ‘signature’ series, That’s Solent on Sunday.

The channel will be on air from 7am to 11pm, with the option to extend the schedule overnight after That’s Solent is established.

Citizen awareness is a key theme of That’s Solent – and key series The Solent
Audit will contrast, compare and shed light on the performance records of our local authorities, MPs, police and health services.

Community and voluntary groups will get at least forty minutes coverage per week in features such as Community Corner, and a A Down Your Way type series will portray the ‘rich local tapestry’ of people’s lives.

Sports will also be a key strand, along with a showcase for local student programming, what’s-on programming, general coverage of the arts, documentary specials and lifestyle series.

The example schedule below was part of That’s Solent’s bid to Ofcom.

Indicative schedule for That's Solent local TV in Southampton

Where will That’s Solent cover?

Broadcasting from the Rowridge transmitter, That’s Solent should reach Southampton and surrounding areas including Eastleigh, Fareham, Winchester and parts of the Isle of Wight
and Portsmouth.

The map below gives an indication of the predicted coverage.

That's Solent local TV Southampton predicted coverage map

When will Local TV be coming to Southampton?

Depending on the launch of the local TV multiplex, That’s Solent expects to launch on Freeview on January 1, 2014.

What’s Local TV all about?

Local TV is an ongoing project to bring local news, entertainment and services to at least 21 cities in the UK, with the possibility of this expanding to a further 28 areas.

Will I have to retune my Freeview box?

Local TV will be coming to Freeview channel 8 when it launches in Southampton, but it will be on a new frequency with two other new TV channels, so you will need to retune in order to get them all.

Can I get Local TV on Sky, Virgin Media or Freesat?

There’s still a debate as to where local TV will appear on Sky’s programme guide and how viewers will be able to get it.

Virgin Media is in favour of delivering a local TV through an app on its TiVo boxes, providing access to local TV streams from all over the country.

Sky and Freesat are a challenge for local TV channels, because it will be very expensive and wasteful to purchase satellite capacity for 21 channels. Every local channel will reach the whole country because satellite transmissions can’t be focussed onto small areas, even though they only need to reach a small area.

It’s more likely that the channels will be delivered over broadband using Sky On Demand and the new Free Time from Freesat.

Sky has suggested that local TV channels should be available through the yellow button on its remote control, because it doesn’t want to move Sky Living from number 108 in the Sky Guide. Virgin’s also in favour of using the yellow button instead of ousting the incumbent from channel 8, and although Freesat would have no trouble making channel 8 available, the yellow button could become the default for local TV like the red button has for interactive TV. 


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